Sardinia is an Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, inhabited by 1.6 million humans and 4 million sheep, and separated from Italy by a few hundred kilometers of sea.
You may have heard of Sardinia as a haven for luxurious tourism, or as an environmentally-preserved landscape, or for its agriculture and traditional handicrafts, or even maybe for its famous personalities, as it was the birth land of Antonio Gramsci.
But you probably haven’t heard – yet – of Sardinia for its digital innovation, although the place is bustling with ideas, energy and passion, with such a creative approach to some widespread and worldwide-shared problems, from social and sustainable innovations to the sharing economy, digital school or high-tech medicine, that it is worth taking a deeper look, and connecting with its players.
I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to meet and interview 5 of these players, who have each shared their viewpoint and experience of the projects they are either developing or contributing to :
– Nicola Pirina, Digital Champion Cagliari & Sardegna, VP Sardegna 2050, innovation strategist and advisor to many start-ups and institutions
– Roberto Spano, CEO of Sardex, a local currency launched in 2010, now aggregating more than 2000 members with more than 50 Million euros in transactions realised, and one of three pilot projects in Europe on this front.
– Alessandra Patti, School Director at Istituto Comprensivo Sestu, with 3 of her students, around all the digital initiatives taking place at her school (do-it-yourself interactive boards, Arduino projects, coding workshops…).
– Nicola Siza, founder of Hub/Spoke, a brand new co-working place for start-ups & freelances from Sardinia or abroad, with high ambitions.
– Monica Mureddu, founder of Sardinia Innovation, a website dedicated to sharing innovation initiatives taking place on the island, with a strong focus on social and sustainable innovations.
Each interview is available in video format on YouTube and in text transcript. The interviews were recorded in various languages (Italian, English, French), however English subtitles are available for all videos and the text transcripts are in English as well.
I have found common traits in all 5 of them, which is probably not a matter of pure coïncidence but may be suggesting some contours to the specific characteristics of digital innovation in Sardinia :
Energy, passion, ideas, ambition to change their world, and the world as well, right from where they are. No dreams of Silicon Valley, but the love of their land and the conviction that digital innovation can create unique opportunities for a better life, individually and as a society, and that this can be invented anywhere, even in the middle of the sea, especially in the middle of the sea. Ingeniousness when means are frugal, openness to international partnerships, a deep sense of the community, hunger for positive and fruitful collaborations.
Digital innovation in Sardinia : Avanti tutta !